--1--I got my course instructor surveys back from last semester. It was a rough semester, since the students were generally more a) unenthusiastic, b) ungrateful, and c) over-entitled than usual. Their comments (and instructor evaluation scores) generally reflected this, as I got by far my worst evaluations to date. Let's celebrate by looking at some of their comments.
"BLOW MORE STUFF UP! Don't assume the students know anything. WTH is [alpha]? Prof kept good humor despite lack of enthusiasm [from students]."
This is a pretty good summary of that class in general. There are a few students who had good attitudes and could look around (or within) and see at the least a lack of enthusiasm from the class for the material. They could also see that I could sense this, and that I tried to work with what I had anyway. Since this student was an art major (she says as much later in the comments), all I can say is: "God bless you, Betsy."
--2--"I like turtles."
See what I mean about the enthusiasm for the course material?
--3--"He never was available outside of class except Friday mornings."
Yes, that's right. I held my office hours (two of them, twice as many as were required by the course) and that was it. I can't spend all of my time teaching and holding office hours: that's not why I'm here. Of course, never really turned away any student who showed up to my office (often un-announced) during other times unless I was really busy, so... And I might add that the attendance at my (and my assistant's) hours exceeded 50% of the class (total) and probably 25% of the classes on a per-week basis. Ask how many professors of lower-division (let alone non-major) classes get those kinds of numbers. My one unusual policy is that I told students that email was not a very good way to get contact me (and hear back) quickly. This is because I would prefer people to plan ahead; thus, I had a one week email policy. This semester I've changed that to two days, excluding weekends. We'll see how this goes. This is because
- Most relevant (physics-related) questions are much easier to answer in person, both as far as formulating the answer and as concerns their understanding the answer; I'd rather not spend hours of my life playing email tag trying to guess exactly what they are asking when five or ten minutes in person would suffice.
- In the past, I've had people email me the night before the test, as late as 7:00 at night, with a test the next morning (10:00 AM if I recall) wanting to know if I can hold a special office hours/review session for them before the test. These people were absolutely incensed when I did not get back to them before the exam.
"The assignments were too hard."
This is a good summary of the most common comment (perhaps this is why so many people came to office hours?). I'm not sure what to tell them, since by their own admission assignments were taking no more than about 3 hours outside of class per hour inside class on average (which is the approximate standard for college of natural sciences and is actually fairly light for a physics class)--oh, and they had weeks of between assignments. For what it's worth, this semester will include more assignments which are shorter, but with more optional practice problems. The assignments are still long, they will still be hard, but I've tried to give more examples in class related to them.
--5--Moving on, it may be fairly old, but I still get a kick out of the Cold Steel swords infomercials. I'm not sure which is more over-the-top: the great sword infomercial, or the series for their pepper spray.
Here is the Great Sword:
And here is on of the ones for their Inferno pepper-spray:
--6--This election year seems to be a parallel (in reverse) of 2004, but to a greater extent. Then, the Republicans had a somewhat unpopular president with a fairly devoted base; the Democrats nominated John Kerry who ran under the slogan "Anybody but Bush 2004." Bush won handily. Four years later, Bush' popularity was in the gutters, and the Democrats managed to get the highly popular (on the left) "Obamassiah" elected over the lackluster performance of McCain/Palin. This year, the roles are reversed (though to a greater extent): Obama is up for re-election--which he does not deserve*--but will almost indubitably go up against Mitt Romney, who will run under the (truthful) slogan "An empty suit is better than the incumbent." Romney will have prevailed against a field of candidates whose strongest arguments (beside being opposed to Obama) were that they were not Mitt Romney. And waiting in the wings for 2016 is a possibly very strong field of Republicans, so hopefully when the Republicans lose the Presidential election this year, they will win it handily the next time around: much like 2008 in reverse. Preferably, the winner will be a strong social and economic conservative with a good working conscience; more likely, he'll be a politician.
*Although he did finally kind of make good on one bit of campaign rhetoric meant to appeal to people who are not on the far left: he claimed to be a uniter. And though his has been a rather divisive presidency--certainly no less so than any president in the past--he did finally manage to cause one fractured group to unite: the US bishops.
|A picture which I snapped from near the end of the March/Rally for life last weekend. People were starting to leave by then.|
Seven Quick Takes Friday is hosted by Mrs Jennifer Fulwiler at her Conversion Diary blog.